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Little Princess Trust update on Afro hair

Little Princess Trust update on Afro hair

The Little Princess Trust has been exploring ways to use Afro hair in its wigs for some time.

And we are excited to announce that our research has led us to a new manufacturing technique which we believe could make it possible to use Afro hair donations in our wigs.

The new procedure would see Afro hair donations made into wefts before these are then sewn into the wig base. This would make for a different type of wig to the one traditionally provided by The Little Princess Trust.

The Little Princess Trust will continue to offer its Afro-style wigs, which are made from straight hair before being curled to replicate the beautiful hair type, but our hope is that the trials of the wefted wigs will one day allow us to offer our young wig recipients a wider choice.

Liz Finan, the owner of Raoul Wig Makers in London, is one of the hair professionals we have spoken to as part of our research into using Afro hair donations in our wigs.

Liz Finan, the owner of Raoul Wig Makers in London

Liz has written the following to explain to our supporters some of the challenges of wig making using natural Afro hair.

Despite Afro hair appearing very strong it is actually a very delicate hair type.

The reason for this is because the structure of each strand of afro-textured hair has a flattened cross-section and is quite fine and, therefore, more delicate than other hair types. The curls formed by this structure, create tight circles with diameters of only a few millimetres.

There are many different categories of Afro-textured hair because of the many different variations among individuals. Those variations include: strand diameter (fine, medium, coarse); tightness of coils; size of coils and their resultant “springiness”, for example a given length of Afro- textured hair when stretched straight, can appear much shorter when allowed to naturally coil. This apparent contraction is most evident when Afro-textured hair has recently been wet.

In addition, the curly nature of Afro-textured hair, causes difficulties for the natural oils produced by the scalp, to travel up to the ends of the hair. This leaves the hair more predisposed to dryness and so making it more vulnerable to breakage. Consequently, Afro-textured hair is generally moisturised by applying heavy oils to the hair.

 The Little Princess Trust is proud to provide wigs in various styles to children and young people of all races and ethnicities.

In order to explain why it is very difficult to use Afro-textured hair in the process of wig making, I wanted to explain how hair is used when making a wig.

In order to create a wig, hair is ventilated (knotted) into a wig cap. The hair to be ventilated is sandwiched between two drawing mats – a drawing mat has small L shaped prongs which keep the hair still whilst some of it is pulled through the drawing mat to be ventilated. Hair, which is used in a wig, must be ventilated into the wig cap with the roots and ends turned in the correct direction.

Given the tight coiled structure of Afro-textured hair, it is not possible to get the hair to lay flat and straight in the drawing mat.  The tools used in wig making and the tightness of the knots can cause Afro-textured hair to break, given its delicate nature.

One of the most difficult aspects of using Afro-textured hair in wigs is that when the hair is collected it contracts and curls back on itself unless it is plaited prior to being cut.  The hair must be free of all oils when it is being ventilated as it is too slippery to work with if oils have been used to moisturise the hair prior to cutting it.

By removing the oils, the Afro-textured hair becomes dry and more brittle and coils more tightly and is thus is more difficult to work with."

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The MBE for volunteer groups, awarded to The Little Princess Trust by Her Majesty The Queen.